Archive for March, 2013

Social Media – Town Crier, Sheriff, and sometimes Hangman too

In an earlier era, the news media was the link between current events and the common man. They tracked, analysed and interpreted events and then conveyed that interpretation to us. Today the linkage between the common man and the media has become a bit more complex. While the earlier linkage / information flow pattern still remains, on many stories there’s also a reverse flow thanks to social media. Many issues that would otherwise have gone unnoticed get picked up on social media, and mainstream media notices them after (or because) they have gone viral.

Consider, for instance, the Ford Figo ads that sparked outrage recently; these showcased the extra-large boot of the car by showing three scantily clad bound and gagged women inside it. While I’d have called the ad misogynistic, regressive and in bad taste at any time, given the current environment in India it also showed that at least some people existed in a time warp that totally blanked out current events and the mood in this country. You might cavil at the lack of my sense of humour, but while I feel that these would be ok in MAD magazine or in a men’s changing room, as an ad intended to sell more products or win an award (!!), these lack a certain something. (Read Anuja Chauhan skewering the ad here – frankly, her article was one reason I desisted from doing so in detail, she’s already done it so efficiently.)

Created as award ads, these ads would probably have gone unnoticed a few years earlier, but with sharing so easy on social media, these went all around the world and created a storm that resulted in an apology from Ford and heads rolling at the ad agency. In fact, on Wednesday, 27th March, after the news about the ad agency’s reaction broke, in just 7 hours there were over 1500 tweets on this issue, with a duplicated reach of 4.6 Mn people.

As this post on adsoftheworld says, ‘The world is becoming increasingly smaller. If you post something publicly on the internet it can be replicated in a very short amount of time. Mass media picks up stories from social media and blogs. Once something is out it’s impossible to contain it.  Think twice about how your ad will be perceived in different cultures of the world.’


If you want to read more about this controversy, follow the links below :

A slightly different point of view from Prathap Suthan.

And here too :

For an analysis of how the ad spread around the world, read this.

Other news about these ads here, here, here and here.

  • Zenobia Driver

March 30, 2013 at 2:29 am 1 comment

Innovative Offers in Auto

Reportedly, February saw the biggest fall in the last 12 years in car sales – passenger car sales in February 2013 declined by 25.71% over February 2012. Overall the car sales increased by only 3.68% over last year (Source: SIAM). 

Given the high interest rates and soaring fuel prices, the car market is expected to remain weak. In the wake of such circumstances, car manufacturers are thinking outside the box, or at least stretching it to regain sales momentum.

To lure in customers, car manufacturers are offering several attractive offers across their range of cars. While some are offering 0% interest, others are offering attractive EMI schemes, some are doing buy-backs and exchanges while some are offering additional accessories and fittings for free.  Nothing new in this kitty, these are typical of March, because its year-end for everyone.

But wait, car manufacturers are now offering something new too. For example: Volkswagen is offering a trade-in scheme, where you can bring in your old car + Re.1 and take home a brand new Vento, rest of the payment to be made after one year, in full or in attractive 36 EMIs.

Tata Motors is offering its Manza customers 60% of the purchase price after three years. That’s quite an attractive offer, locking in the resale value, knowing for sure that you will get 60% of your car’s price, Given how poor the resale market has been in the past few years, with so many players in the market and manufacturers introducing new models and upgrades to old ones much more frequently, buyers are spoilt for choice even in the resale market.

It’s understandable that the car manufacturers themselves are offering such bold schemes because they have the deep pockets to take in some of these costs, but there are some entrepreneurial automobile dealers who have come up with some innovative offers for their own markets.

A Skoda dealer in Gujarat is offering ‘Buy a Rapid, Get a Fabia free’! We’ve heard of buy one, get one free offers in FMCG, but a first in automobiles, that too an initiative not by the manufacturer but by a lone dealer! Sure, from your point of view, you get the hatchback (Fabia) free only after five years, but by then won’t it be time to change your car anyways? Who would pass up on such an offer?! He sure has worked out his economics and has gone in head first to tackle the sales slowdown. A source from the trade says, “This is quite a bold move. In a time like this, when they are sitting on so much inventory, it is cheaper to offer such deals than to pay the bank interest. More cars on the road at least ensures us that we will have constant revenues from car servicing…”

A Jaguar Land Rover dealer in the north gave 15 cars to the who’s-who of society without taking a penny. He knew these people would pay him eventually given their status in society, but to just send off 15 of such high-end cars is quite a gutsy move. He was only trying to capitalize on the North-Indian “if he has it, I should have it too” attitude and it worked well for him. 15 Jaguar and Land Rover cars were on the streets of this not-so-big city, getting noticed and inquiries started pouring in. Plus the word of mouth from none other than the who’s who of the city helped him tremendously.

Tough times are calling for some tough calls, and manufacturers and dealers are tackling them with some innovative approaches.

  • Roshni Jhaveri

March 25, 2013 at 8:16 am 1 comment

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